From the hairdessing salon where an old man measures out his life in haircuts, to the concert hall where a music lover carries out an obsessive campaign against those who cough in concerts; from the woman who reads elaborate recipes to her sick husband as a substitute for sex, to the woman 'incarcerated' in an old people's home beginning a correspondence with an author that enriches both their lives - all Barnes' characters, in their different ways, square up to death and rage against the dying light.
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All [the stories] are a joy to read as Barnes glides between forms... Each story is distinct and indelible, a tribute to the form. Above all they make you think about growing old and what, if anything, can be done about it. - Glasgow Herald
Masterly...his best stories have a strong air of Maupassant about them...extraordinarily effective...a compelling series of vignettes of old age, executed with great skill - Daily Telegraph
Sheer intelligence and acute observation carry the whole production...helps sustain a reader's faith in literature - New York Times Book Review
His stories have a photographic clarity, a psychological realism that embraces extremes of feeling...with a deliciously wry streak - Observer
Barnes's steely wit finds best expression when inhabiting the anguished and angry... Their brilliance rather plays upon our petty furies and failures, embellishing them with self-deprecatory wryness...entrancing and curiously cheering - New Statesman
Julian Barnes is the author of eleven novels, including The Sense of an Ending, Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the Worldin 10½ Chapters and Arthur & George; three books of short stories, Cross Channel, The LemonTable and Pulse; and also three collections of journalism, Letters from London, Something to Declare, and The Pedant in the Kitchen.
His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In France he is the only writer to have won both the Prix Médicis (for Flaubert's Parrot) and the Prix Femina (for Talking it Over). He was awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2004, the David Cohen Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011. He lives in London.